Microsoft Responds to Google Talk

Amidst all the buzz, hoopla and actual launch of Google’s IM product, Microsoft has quietly updated its own IM client.

Redmond launched MSN Messenger 7.5 yesterday, an incremental update to version 7.0 which came out at the beginning of April. Unlike version 7.0 though, Messenger 7.5 only supports Windows XP users.

The new release boasts a number of improvements as well as new features. Among them is a new feature called Voice Clip which allows MSN Messenger 7.5 users to record up to 15 seconds of sound and have it sent to a “buddy” much like an instant message.

“It’s designed to feel exactly like an Instant Message, except you trade in your hands and eyes for your voice and ears,” Leah Pearlman, MSN Messenger program manager, wrote in her blog. “It adds a personalized and emotional dimension to IM.”

Audio quality, which emerged as a significant feature in version 7.0, gets another improvement in the latest release, thanks in part to improved “echo-cancellation.” Audio device setup has also been improved with a new Audio and Video Setup features in MSN Messenger 7.5.

Security is also boasting new configuration options. MSN Messenger 7.5 users can now choose to disable file transfers as well as choose to disallow hyperlinks in IM windows. File transfer and links have to date been two of the most common attack vectors in IM related attacks and virus transmission.

The release may have gotten lost in the GoogleTalk sauce. Google’s IM product officially launched in beta yesterday too. MSN Messenger 7.5’s launch may have been coincidental, then again it may not.

“IM is something that Google absolutely has to do if they are going to be a real ‘portal’ type of site on the Web with services that create sticky relationships with their customers,” Adam Sohn, director of global sales and marketing at Microsoft, commented in an e-mail to

“At MSN, we have been focused on building MSN Messenger and other communication services for 10 years and continue to invest and innovate,” he continued.

“MSN will continue to focus on doing what’s right for our customers and we plan to continue to delight our 170 million MSN Messenger customers who use our service in 26 languages around the world — expect more to come.”

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